Adoptionistic Christologies

For some posts now I have been talking about “docetic” Christologies in the early church – views of Christ that said he was so much divine that he was not really a human – and about how these influenced proto-orthodox scribes who changed their texts of scripture in order to show that, by contrast, Christ really was a flesh and blood human being.   I would now like to shift to the other end of the theological spectrum to discuss Christological ...

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Patristic Evidence for the New Testament

Yesterday I discussed very briefly the benefits and difficulties of versional evidence for establishing the text of the New Testament.   As it turns out, it is a very big and complex issue, or rather sets of issues.   There are large and difficult books written on very small aspects of the versions.   One, still authoritative, treatment of the whole shooting match, with extensive bibliography (which is now, of course, out of date), is one of the magna opera of my mentor, ...

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Orthodoxy and Proto-Orthodoxy

The current thread on the diversity of early Christianity actually began as a response to a question raised by a reader, which was the following:

Dr. Ehrman, I do not know if others would find this interesting, but I would love to know how you developed the idea for The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. How did you go about researching it? How long did it take? Is it a once in a lifetime work?

My initial thought was ...

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Papias and the Eyewitnesses

I have been discussing the writings of Papias, his lost five-volume Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.  Scholars of the New Testament have long ascribed huge significance to this work, in no small part because Papias claims to have ties to eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus.   In my view this championing of Papias is misguided.   I say something about that in my new book on Jesus Before the Gospels (or whatever we end up ...

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A Fantastic Saying of Jesus in Papias

I have mentioned one of the intriguing traditions found in the now-lost Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord by the early second century proto-orthodox church father Papias (his account of the death of Judas).  Here is another one.

In this one Papias is relating what he has heard that Jesus taught.  As you’ll see, it is not a teaching that is found in the New Testament Gospels, or in fact in any other Gospel source we have.

What is ...

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The Lost Writings of Papias

In this thread I have been discussing documents known from early Christianity that no longer exist and that I very much wish would be discovered.  So far I have talked about the lost letters of Paul, the writings of Paul’s opponents, Q (the source used by Matthew and Luke for many of their sayings of Jesus), and the Signs Source (a collection of Jesus miraculous activities used by the Gospel of John).   With this post I move outside the New ...

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The Ebionites and their Gospel

There are other interesting features of the Gospel of the Ebionites, known from the quotations of Epiphanius, the fourth-century heresiologist (= heresy-hunter). We wish we had the whole Gospel. We have only these eight fragments that Epiphanius quotes. We wish we knew who actually used the Gospel. We wish we knew how long it was, what it contained, and what it’s theological slant was. It is almost impossible to say from what remains.

One big question is whether, since it was ...

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Problems with Patristic Evidence

Sorry not to have posted for a couple of days. I am out of the country and did not have the wifi connection that I was told I’d have. I confess, it was nice being incommunicado! But I’m back, for the duration I should think.

And to return to the topic of original conversation on this thread – before getting sidelined with all that discussion of Luke 3:22 — the importance, but problems, with patristic evidence (that is, citations of the ...

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Luke 3:22 — What Luke Himself Would Have Written

In my previous post I began to look at the “internal” evidence that the voice at Jesus’ baptism in Luke’s Gospel said the words that are found among Greek manuscripts *only* in Codex Bezae of the early fifth century: “You are my son, today I have begotten you,” as opposed to the words found in all the other Greek manuscripts (the voice as recorded also in Mark): “You are my son, in you I am well-pleased.” If you’ll recall, there ...

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More Arguments over Luke 3:22

Yesterday I posted some comments that were designed to show why knowing the Patristic evidence is so valuable in establishing what the oldest form of the text of the NT was. My illustration was from Luke 3:22, where the voice from heaven says different things, depending on which witnesses you read. The fifth century manuscript Codex Bezae is the *only* Greek manuscript that has the reading “You are my son, Today I have begotten you.” The Greek manuscripts that were ...

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